OBITUARY – Samuel John Shrouder – 1945 – 2023
By Sandy Tittershill
Sam was born and brought up in Granville Park, Aughton near Ormskirk. Every member of his family turned out to be able and successful. His father John, a chartered engineer, was a keen follower of Southport FC and his mother Grace was Oxford educated and became a lecturer. Sam watched his first football match at Haig Avenue just before his tenth birthday in 1955 which was the final match of the season versus Scunthorpe United. The score was 1-1. At around the same time Sam joined the junior section at Ormskirk Cricket Club which boasted some older juniors Peter Guy, Tom Wheble, Geoff Tittershill and Derek Anderton. This was quite a strong group but there were younger players including John Sumner, Sam and myself. Sam was a keen cricketer and soon made his mark. He became a solid batsman and a spin bowler who sent down fast leg breaks. Eventually the Indian spinner Chandrasekhar became well known in first class cricket and as Sam and I became friends on the cricket field Sam was often compared to Chandra because they both bowled fast leg breaks, a difficult skill for a bowler.
Meanwhile Sam had reached the age of 13 and he had taken up a place at Denstone College in Staffordshire, an independent boarding and day school. A consolation emerged when it transpired that Denstone was a keen cricket school. Here his coaches were former Lancashire players Jack Ikin and David Green and he also attracted the attention of Lancashire Youth Coach Tom Reddick. Sam made good progress in cricket and his coaches soon became his favourite teachers. In his final year at Denstone Sam hit 122* against Trent College and captured 5 for 28. He followed this by playing 22 matches for Ormskirk 1st XI between 1964 and 1966. His best innings was 50* v Neston at Brook Lane in a seven wicket victory. Later in his own book Sam declared his spiritual home to be Ormskirk Cricket Club.
By now Sam had started to travel up and down the country for his work in the entertainment industry, but he still managed to play some cricket for various clubs and teams. Indeed Sam met many first class cricketers, some he played with and against, as well as professional footballers such as Geoff Hurst. Linda played a big part in supporting Sam’s busy social life as well as driving him to all the home and away matches at Southport FC. Daily life might have included casinos and cabaret, champagne and celebrities and there were soon to be some great days at Haig Avenue following the appointment of Billy Bingham as Manager. Southport were to earn a place in the last 16 of the FA Cup, also win their first promotion in the Football League, and host giants Everton FC in the FA Cup before almost 20,000 fans at Haig Avenue. Sam and his father were still following Southport FC whenever they could and they enjoyed the Bingham years especially. Eventually, in the 1980’s and following some mediocre seasons outside of the Football League, Charlie Clapham had joined the football club and formalised their finances. He was regarded as a serious addition to the board and he was appointed Chairman in 1984. A little later Sam wrote a letter to Charlie pointing out some weaknesses in the playing staff arrangements and offering to help. Charlie hesitated and delayed his reply but Sam eventually convinced him and the result was that Charlie and Sam agreed to work together. Furthermore, Sam would join the board and Sam’s Apollo would become the main Sponsors of the club.
Sam went on to become the Vice Chairman and the ground was significantly improved so that it reached the standards required by the Vauxhall Conference. Under Charlie and Sam the club progressed so much that the team reached the Wembley cup final of the FA Trophy in 1998, a great achievement.
While all this was going on Sam had become the C E O of Apollo and had effectively taken command of four West End theatres. He was now one of a very small number of people who decided which shows went on in their venues. Many were musicals and ran for several years, including Starlight Express, Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King.
In 2017 following relegation and some turbulence at the club Sam stood down as Vice Chairman along with other directors but SFC would not manage long without him. In 2019 Sam became Life President of the club and the main stand was named after him.
SAMUEL JOHN SHROUDER
Sam was a first class communicator and he had a word for every moment. He was confident, approachable and optimistic. Importantly he was also kind and generous and when help was needed he readily offered it. He possessed a wonderful sense of humour which made him great company and enormously popular. His parents and his family will have been very proud of him. Sam is survived by his wife Linda and son Ben.